Following in the footsteps of Canadian triathlon legends Simon Whitfield and Carol Montgomery, Kirsten Sweetland delivered a breakthrough performance to win silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Sweetland had a promising start to her career, becoming the youngest Canadian to win a World Cup race when she topped the field at the 2007 event in Richards Bay, South Africa at 18. However, after narrowly missing qualification for the 2008 Olympics, she suffered several stress fractures, preventing her from reaching her potential for many years.
Coming into the 2014 Commonwealth triathlon, the Nanaimo, B.C., native was riding a bit of momentum with five top-10s on the ITU World Cup during the season, including a bronze medal in Hamburg less than two weeks out of the Games.
After the English trio of Lucy Hall, Vicky Holland and Jodie Stimpson led out of the water, Sweetland produced the fastest bike split in the field as she was apart of the group that caught the leaders. Despite a late push from Hall to break away, the lead pack of 10 came into T2 together and it would come down to the run.
Athletes slowly started to drop off from the leaders, and with one lap remaining the group had whittled down to five: Sweetland, Stimpson, Holland, Australia’s Emma Jackson and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.
After Hewitt and Jackson got dropped, Sweetland and Stimpson pulled away from Holland, and then it was England’s Stimpson who had the finishing kick coming down the final 200 m to solidify the victory.
Sweetland picked up the silver five seconds back in a time of 1:59:01, earning Canada’s third triathlon medal in the history of the Games. Both Whitfield and Montgomery won gold in the sport’s debut at the 2002 Games in Manchester.
“Totally pain-free,” Sweetland said post-race, referencing her injury history. “It feels so good. It feels unbelievable to get a medal.”
“I just tried to stick on Jodie’s shoulder for the run and hang on for as long as I could.”